Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Fulano has some interesting little factoids about the man.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, the middle child of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. King’s father’s original name was “Michael King”, and Martin Luther King, Jr., was originally named “Michael King, Jr.” In 1934 the King family traveled to Europe and visited Germany. Also in 1934, Adolf Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany. King’s father soon changed both of their names to Martin Luther in honor of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther.

Now, Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German priest and professor of theology who initiated the Protestant Reformation. He was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church for directly challenging the Pope and the church’s theology.

In his later years, Martin Luther became strongly antisemitic, writing that Jewish homes should be destroyed, their synagogues burned, money confiscated and liberty curtailed. These statements have made Luther a controversial figure among many historians and religious scholars. It also makes Fulano wonder why King’s father would change his and his son’s name to Martin Luther King to honor him.

“In the End, we will remember not
 the words of our enemies,
 but the silence of our friends.”
 — Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1963, there were many who were convinced the Civil Rights Movement was being fueled by Communists to destabilize the US. J. Edgar Hoover, who was the director of the FBI, feared that Communists were infiltrating the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, King had some close advisors who were formerly members of the Communist Party, although there was never any evidence that Martin Luther King, Jr. had any connection with the Communist Party. The Kennedy Administration was concerned that allegations of Communists in the Movement, if made public, would derail the Administration’s civil rights initiatives. Robert Kennedy warned King to discontinue the suspect associations, and later felt compelled to issue a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other civil rights leaders.

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent means. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Two months later, on June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy lay dead on the kitchen floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

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